Footsteps of Jesus through Galilee
We arrive in Tel Aviv and have a short drive to our hotel in Netanya in time for dinner and overnight. The next morning we depart for the Galilee, visiting the following Biblical sites: Caesarea where Peter proclaimed the Good News to the Roman Centurion, Megiddo, Mt. Carmel where Elijah prayed, and God defeated 450 prophets of Baal with fire from heaven. Time permitting we’ll stop at the Druze Village for a short lunch break. We continue to Nazareth and include a visit to the “Nazareth Village” with detailed explanation of what life was like during the time of Jesus. We’ll arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There is nothing like watching a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee from our hotel. We begin our sightseeing with a visit to the Mt. of Beatitudes, with time for reflection and a short devotional study. From here we make our way to Capernaum (Jesus’ base for His early ministry), then board a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” for our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We include a visit to the Jesus Boat Museum, where we have an opportunity to view a recently excavated boat that dates back to the time of Jesus. Afterwards, we make our way to see Gadara and then continue to the Jordan River with the opportunity to step into that special river. Dinner and overnight are in Tiberias. After breakfast, we travel north for the Golan Heights and view the area from a special lookout. We drive to Caesarea Philippi, where Peter made the good confession of Christ as “the Son of the living God”. We have a short hike/walk to Tel Dan where we see the gate of Jeroboam. Afterwards, we visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities. In Beit Shean, the bodies of King Saul and his sons were hung from the city walls after they were defeated by the Philistines. We then ascend to the majestic city of Jerusalem in time for dinner and overnight. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:1-2 NASB).
Experience the Judean Wilderness
After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing with a drive to the Wilderness. The road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea region is a descent of 4,000 feet in 13 miles. Our first stop is at Masada, where we take a cable car up to the fortress built by King Herod. Here we survey the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, the synagogue, temples and palaces. Then we drive to Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Afterwards, a short drive takes us to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul. We make a special stop at the Dead Sea (the lowest physical spot on earth) for a short swim/float. Time and conditions permitting, we’ll include a visit to the baptismal site Qasr El-Yahud, the newly excavated site where tradition believes Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Time permitting, we will have a short visit to Jericho. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem – The Holy City
We begin the day on the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage proceeds down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, and the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate, and walk to the holiest site in the whole Jewish world, the Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod’s temple. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David. On this site now stands El-Aqsa Mosque, and the magnificent Dome of the Rock (the third holiest shrine in Islam). From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate, to walk the Via Dolorosa – including St. Anne’s Crusader Church, Pools of Bethesda, the Pavement (where Jesus stood while being tried by Pilate), Ecce Homo Arch, and the ancient Cardo. We continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A short walk takes us to stand on the original steps that Jesus walked on as he entered the Temple area: the Southern Steps. We conclude our sightseeing today with a visit to Bethlehem. We pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts and visit the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field. We have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. After dinner, we return to the Western Wall to visit the Rabbis’ Tunnel. After breakfast, we visit the Shrine of the Book Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. We will be fascinated by the 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time. Next, we drive to an incredible archaeological find: the City of David. Afterwards, we have a short walk to Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting). Be sure to bring a flashlight and good water shoes with you, as you will get wet walking through the tunnel. Those who wish not to get wet can walk through the shaft. If time permits, we will have a short visit to see the new excavations of the Pool of Siloam. Afterwards we make our way to the Church of Agony – St. Peter Gallicantu. Then we visit Golgotha and the Garden Tomb for worship and communion. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. Following a morning at leisure in Jerusalem, we depart Jerusalem late morning/early afternoon and begin our sightseeing with a drive to visit the Elah Valley and the brook where David slew Goliath. From here we continue our drive to Jaffa for a special Farewell Dinner prior to transferring to Ben Gurion airport for our flight back to the U.S.A.